Celebrating midsummer in a place where time stands still
by Daam Broner
June 21, 2012
Oakland’s Chapel of the Chimes, a labyrinthine shrine designed by Julia Morgan, is usually as serenely quiet as the tomb, appropriate for a columbarium and mausoleum. Folding in layers down to Piedmont Avenue, the many chapels and gardens cleverly spill light down through skylights and open-roofed galleries. Trees stand in the upper gardens, and ferns drink the filtered light of the lower levels.
Rhythmic burrs led me into the next room, where strings were stretched across the courtyard, gently struck by feathers and electronically amplified into mounds of sound. Around the corner a young accordionist played Piaf and sang French, outfitted in steam-punk aviation lenses. He stopped to announce titles, amplified through an old gramophone horn. The performer, Albert Behar, is carving a niche for his mix of savvy electronics and sound art.